Poem Used as a Medium
… and you know you’ll never be more
or less alive, that heaven is something
you come to—or don’t—
by accident, by sheer dumb luck.
I didn’t mean to die, Joel:
I drank so much, you’d think
I meant it. Like that time I arrived
at your New Year’s Eve party,
already out-of-my-head drunk,
eyes rolling all around the room.
I spent the rest of the night
drinking more, spilling even more,
or so you told me. But, it came
much more suddenly—a snapshot,
a blink, a strike of a match: something
clutched my heart and wouldn’t let go.
At my wake, you’re reading
my poem, “Heaven.” I suppose
I did find heaven by accident.
But it isn’t how I wished it to be, no
romanticized late night drive
through country, the little towns
in hills, the celestial farm light.
All I know is certain visions come
in and out of blackness like radio waves,
hard to catch as falling leaves in the wind;
quick, like headlights of a passing car
in the dark of a house.
Before I died, I looked into the sky
and spotted the midmorning moon,
still visible, but faint and fading.
Now each vision is like that.
My last was a drove of starlings, a curtain
of black against a gray dusk sky,
forming shapes—a whale, a scarf—
until they disappeared at once into trees,
pulsing with their chaotic noise
You wouldn’t believe me
if I told you, Joel—that’s all it is,
that’s all this life shapes into.